BLACK PRESS RCMP FILE PHOTO

Fisherman arrested for extreme drunkenness after driving boat in circles north of Port Hardy

“The boat operator was grossly impaired and an open container of liquor was located nearby.”

A North Island fisherman has been arrested by the RCMP for drunken boat driving.

On Nov. 29, at approximately 9:50 a.m., “Port Hardy RCMP received a report from the Marine Authority in Port Hardy advising that a fishing vessel approximately 10 metres in length was being operated in an erratic manner in the port and that the operator of the vessel may be impaired,” stated Port Hardy RCMP Staff Sgt. Wes Olsen in a press release.

According to Olsen, Port Hardy RCMP attended the marina and were informed that the vessel in question had since departed the bay area and was approximately four miles north of Port Hardy still being operated erratically. Olsen noted that “Members were able to view the vessel through binoculars and noted that it was just circling in the same spot out in the open water north of Port Hardy.”

Thanks to assistance from the coast guard, “two Port Hardy RCMP members were transported out to the circling vessel,” said Olsen. “They were able to observe a male seated at the helm of the vessel but he appeared to be slumped over and non-responsive. The coast guard vessel unsuccessfully signalled the fishing vessel with its horn in an effort to gain the operator’s attention. At this point the fishing vessel was travelling quickly and continually turning to the right in a circle that appeared to be less than 200 metres in circumference. There was concern for the well-being of the operator as he was non-responsive and clearly not in control of the moving vessel. A decision was made to board the still moving vessel in order to bring it under control and ascertain the medical condition of those on board.”

Olsen added that “the coast guard vessel came along side the fishing vessel trying to match its speed and turning radius which proved difficult due to the large wake being put off by the fishing vessel. The coast guard vessel was able to get along side the fishing vessel close enough to allow an RCMP officer and a coast guard member to jump aboard. The officer was able to safely remove the boat operator from the helm while the coast guard member brought the fishing vessel under control. He was examined for injury and medical distress. It was determined that the boat operator was grossly impaired and an open container of liquor was located nearby. There was another male found sleeping in the hold of the fishing vessel who was intoxicated as well.”

The fishing vessel and the two males aboard returned to the Port Hardy marina with the assistance of the coast guard, stated Olsen, who added “The fishing vessel operator was arrested for impaired operation of a vessel. Due to his extreme level of intoxication he was transported to the Port Hardy hospital for further examination. During the course of this investigation RCMP provided the male with a blood demand enabling a sample of his blood to be taken to further the investigation of Impaired Operation of a Vessel.”

Olsen thanked the local coast guard members for such a quick response to the incident, “and the quick thinking of officers on scene who brought this matter to a quick and successful conclusion. Things could have turned out much differently had the weather been poor and the Coast Guard not been present with a vessel in the water for a quick response.”

The incident remains under investigation.


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editor@northislandgazette.com

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